In my latest reading of Blinded by Might: Why the Religious Right Can’t Save America, by Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson, there were a couple of points that caught my attention. The first point actually contains a variety of points!
1. Cal Thomas talked about the importance of the family. To my surprise, he actually portrayed Jimmy Carter in a positive light, as when he referred to Carter’s belief that the family was paramount, as well as mentioned a time when Carter visited the Department of Housing and Urban Development and told employees that he hoped they’d get married if they were living in sin, for he was serious about the stability of the family. (Thomas was one who voted for Jimmy Carter in 1976 because Carter was a born-again Christian and was refreshing after the Watergate scandal, but Thomas became disillusioned with Carter during his Presidency.)
I thought that Thomas was a little extreme in what he was advising parents to do—-to put their kids into Christian schools, and severely limit their children’s exposure to TV, the Internet, music, etc., perhaps even dismissing those things from the home. On some level, I can sympathize with Thomas’ concerns, for I believe that the entertainment industry encourages attitudes towards sex that can result in ill effects: children lacking a stable home life, a dearth of commitment in relationships, etc. However, I have problems with Christian parents putting their kids into a conservative Christian bubble. Moreover, while Thomas acts as if public schools are bad and families are good (or such is my impression, and I’m open to correction on this), my opinion is that the family itself can negatively influence children, giving them attitudes that are racist or prejudiced or plain-old narrow-minded. I wouldn’t say that the state should raise kids—-as if the state does things perfectly. I just don’t think that families are totally ideal as places for instruction, or that it’s necessarily wrong for public schools to present an alternative viewpoint to what kids are learning at home.
I liked, however, what Thomas said to parents who chose to keep their children in public schools: don’t storm “into the school with a list of demands”, but be a “winsome presence at PTA and school board meetings,” volunteer “to help with school activities”, and develop “relationships with the school’s leaders” (page 139).
For some reason, I was having a negative reaction while I was reading Thomas, for he appeared to be getting into a preachy mode, and I tend to be turned off by that. But some of what he was saying was pretty convicting to me: that we should put effort into making society better rather than just relying on the government, that we should not be snobs but should be welcoming to everyone, like Christ was, etc.
2. Dobson says that he does not really get into political issues in the pulpit, but he preaches through the Bible. And yet, he acknowledges that preaching through the Bible can entail commenting on moral issues, such as the sanctity of life. I’d say that preaching through the Bible is important, for that can encourage pastors to highlight the material that may be blind-spots to certain Christians. For example, the Bible does talk about the sanctity of life, but it also has a lot about social justice for the poor.